It looks like Ian Hislop didn’t get the memo from BBC bosses about what you can and can’t say about Dominic Cummings, as the Have I Got News For You panellist tore into Boris Johnson’s senior adviser.
Branding him a ‘complete and utter fraud’, Hislop ripped apart Cummings’ press conference from the Rose Garden in Downing Street.
He said: ‘He gave an hour and a half of utter twoddle. It’s absolutely clear he did break regulations. He found one tiny clause which he said made an exception, but that didn’t cover the journey to Barnard Castle, it was nonsense, absolute nonsense.
He continued: ‘People were cross because they think he’s taking us for idiots. The eye test thing is marvellous, the idea you’re not sure whether you can drive back to London, so in order to check your eyesight you put your four-year-old in the back of the car and drive around to see if you knock over any pedestrians or smack into a bollard, and that way you know your eyes aren’t there.
‘His greatest irritation is, he said at the beginning, ‘The press are giving misinformation about my whereabouts.’ That’s his job. He got his wife to write pieces in The Spectator suggesting he was in London, which he wasn’t.
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‘So he’s very, very cross. This man has become the centre of the story. I cannot understand why he hasn’t resigned.
He jokingly added: ‘That’s Boris.’
Fellow guest Janet Street-Porter interjected, appearing to leap to the defence of Dominic Cummings, telling Hislop: ‘I think the baying for blood over Dominic Cummings is getting us nowhere.’
But Hislop quipped: ‘Well, he hasn’t resigned yet. Don’t give up,’ prompting laughter from all.
Paul Merton also joined the ribbing, asking: ‘Why did he feel the need to go back to work, is it because it’s very difficult to bully people by Zoom? Doesn’t he have to be next to them?’
‘I think that’s right, and as he said he kept saying it was very important to make these decisions about vaccines,’ responded Hislop. ‘And I thought do we not have any medical experts in Britain? Do we have a health secretary? Why is the political aide making a decision about vaccines? He’s only there to make the prime minister look good, a job he has singularly failed to do’.
Comedian Fin Taylor joined in by ridiculing Cummings’ eye-test trip to Barnard Castle. He quipped: ‘Seeing as they were staying in a house separate to their parents they could have just got their parents to hold something up in the window and see if they could read it across the vast distance on this organic farm that produces weapons-grade bellends’.
Viewers praised the show and the rant as Hislop’s name started to trend on Twitter.
‘Enjoying Ian Hislop absolutely lacerating Dominic Cummings on HIGNFY,’ tweeted Piers Morgan. ‘There, I’ve said it.’
Actor Kathy Burke agreed. She wrote: ‘Prime minister Dominic Cummings was brilliantly roasted on HIGNFY tonight. Ian Hislop was pitch perfect.’
Comedian Jolyon Rubenstein, pointing to the furore over Emily Maitlis’ comments on the BBC’s Newsnight, wrote: ‘Thank god for Ian Hislop. Thank god for independent production companies with balls like Hat Trick, who will not bend to government bollocks to say that no, black is not white, up is not down and restore some sanity to our Gasslit nation clapping hands sign’.
‘Has the BBC given a warning to Ian Hislop yet?’ asked another.
Brexiteer Darren Grimes fumed: ‘Ian Hislop hasn’t been funny since I was a child.’